Don’t Embarass Your Sister

December 23rd, 2005 by Yaakov Ellis

ויבא יעקב מן השדה בערב, ותצא לאה לקראתו ותאמר אלי תבוא כי שכר שכרתיך בדודאי בני, וישכב עמה בלילה הוא

And Yaakov came from the field in the evening, and Leah went out to him and said ‘Come to me, for I have hired you with my sons duda’im‘, and he slept with her on that night

Bereishit 30:16

The gemara in Megilla 13b explains how Rachel told Leah about the signals that she had pre-arranged with Yaakov. Even though this is what allowed Leah to take her place under the chuppah, Rachel did this in order that Leah not be embarassed.

In the passuk above, Leah returns the favor. Leah had already negotiated with Rachel that in exchange for the duda’im that Reuven had found, Leah would be able to spend the night with Yaakov instead of Rachel. The Netziv explains that Leah went out to greet Yaakov as he was returning because she wished to avoid causing any embarassment to Rachel. If Yaakov had returned from the field and gone to Rachel’s tent as he had been planning, only to leave a few minutes later after being told that he was to be spending the night with Leah, everyone would see this, and Rachel would be embarassed. Instead, Leah went out to meet Yaakov and tell him. Even though this was not the ideal in terms of modesty, Leah felt that it would be better to do this if it would lessen the embarassment of her sister.

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